Linder v. Finland

Comm. 1420/2005, U.N. Doc. A/61/40, Vol. II, at 663 (HRC 2005)
Download Judgment: English
Country: Finland
Region: Europe
Year: 2005
Court: Human Rights Committee
Health Topics: Health care and health services
Human Rights: Freedom from discrimination, Right to health
Tags: Access to health care, Access to treatment, Emergency care

This is a complaint by a Finnish citizen in need of medical care in Germany, who asserts that Finnish authorities have breached certain duties and failed to provide him access to medical care.

The complainant was admitted in November 2004 to a hospital in Germany. While in the hospital, he was contacted by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) for confirmation of his residence in Finland in order to obtain coverage that Finnish residents are entitled to when they travel for a short period of time. The complainant allegedly asked KELA to inform him what information or form was needed, and they never replied. He was discharged from the hospital but unable to return to Finland because his health was not good enough for a long flight.

Having not received the confirmation of residence, KELA denied his coverage. The complainant alleges that since he was discharged from the hospital, he was left without medical attention despite his attempts to reach out to Finnish officials for help. He complained to the Chancellor of Justice’s Office on two occasions, claiming KELA and other officials and institutions “failed their duty” to him, partially on the basis of discrimination because he is not an ethnic Finn and speaks with an accent.

The complainant alleges that the state party’s authorities have failed to provide him with any assistance despite his medical emergency, and that they alleged negligence is a violation of his right to access a fair hearing and appeal. He alleges that Finnish authorities have violated his right to health. He also claims that he is a victim of discrimination.

The Committee held that the communication was inadmissible under articles 2, 3, and 5, paragraph 2(b), of the Optional Protocol entered into force for Finland in 1976. The complainant has failed to bring his case before one of Finland’s courts in order to seek a remedy for the situation, and the Optional Protocol calls for the exhaustion of domestic remedies before seeking a remedy from the Committee.

The Committee held that the complainant failed sufficiently to show that he was a victim of discrimination based on his ethnic origin, and that this part of the communication is inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.

The Committee has noted the author's claims that the authorities' disregard for his case amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment, and that he is a victim of discrimination based on his ethnic origin. In support of his latter claim, he explains that he speaks the Finnish language with an accent and that it would be easy for a native Finn to assume that he was a "foreigner with a Finnish passport". The Committee considers that the author has failed sufficiently to substantiate, for purposes of admissibility, these two claims, and that this part of the communication is inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.” (Para 4.5)